Dallas' Hernandez back to training, eyes playoffs
FRISCO, Texas — FC Dallas sorely needed Daniel Hernandez’s veteran leadership last Saturday against Colorado. But due to a left hamstring strain suffered back on Sept. 16, he was watching the 2-2 draw with the Rapids instead of being on the field and providing solid leadership in the middle of the park.
The team captain returned to training on Tuesday for his first full session since his injury. FCD head coach Schellas Hyndman was glad to see his captain back.
“I think he’s at the point now where he’ll be a player that continues to improve,” said Hyndman. “We’ll see how he does the rest of this week to see if he’s capable of making the trip [to Salt Lake this weekend].”
The FCD gaffer realizes how much his team missed Hernandez’s strong, assertive voice in Saturday’s tie with Colorado.
“Against Colorado, we just didn’t have that leadership there,” Hyndman said. “It kind of reminded me of last year when there wasn’t leadership. We need to get him back because it’s easy to lead a team that’s winning 4-0. Everybody’s happy. It’s when you’re battling that you need the leaders.”
Before his injury, Hernandez had started 23 of FCD’s first 24 games. The only match he missed was due to a suspension for yellow-card accumulation.
“Health-wise, I feel good,” Hernandez said. “I’m probably not quite 100 percent, but I feel like I’m almost there. I just need to get my legs back and my fitness back.
"I’m maybe not looking to start or get 90 minutes, but I think my focus right now is on getting minutes and getting back into game shape.”
The midfielder says he’s at about 80 to 85 percent, staying in shape by using an exercise bike as well as finding other ways to maintain his fitness. However, he knows the biggest issue will be getting back into game rhythm.
With just one regular-season game left for FCD after this weekend’s trip to Rio Tinto Stadium, Hernandez has no worries about being ready for the start of the playoffs in just a few weeks.
“I have plenty of time to get ready for the playoffs,” he said. “I’m waiting to see what’s going to happen this weekend [and whether I play].”
Hernandez’s last postseason experience came in the 2006 MLS Cup final, when he was in the first 11 for New England as they lost a heartbreaker to Houston on penalty kicks. It was his second straight year reaching the Conference Finals with the Revolution.
“Definitely I want to get back [for the playoffs],” said Hernandez, adding that it’s tough to lose “those championship games.”
“As well as we’ve been playing, our goal was to get into the playoffs, but also to win the whole thing,” continued Hernandez. “We’ve been doing the job so far. Hopefully we can keep it up in the playoffs. I think we have the talent and the right guys here to [win the MLS Cup] maybe this year.”